Dan Rather stars at leftist ‘media reform’ conference in Denver

Special to WorldTribune.com

By Cliff Kincaid

Denver, Colorado: Disgraced CBS newsman Dan Rather returned with an appearance in a new film, “Shadows of Liberty,” which had its U.S. premiere at the “National Conference for Media Reform” in Denver on Thursday night. The film — and Rather — contend that corporate power has taken control of the American media, leaving the American people uninformed about current events.

The conference is based on the premise that the media are not left-wing enough, and that government regulations and subsidies are necessary to restore the concept of a “public media” that people can rely on for news and information. A big focus of this year’s conference is urging the Obama administration to promote more federal control over the Internet, under the guise of “net neutrality.”

Dan Rather.
Dan Rather.

Rather, who left CBS after being caught up in a scandal in which fake documents were used to smear former President George Bush, was hired by billionaire Mark Cuban for his HDNet channel, which is now called AXS TV. He narrates a little-watched show called “Dan Rather Reports.”

It is telling that he has now become a hero of the far-left.

The film also featured Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, whose service to the Russians included hosting a program on the Kremlin-funded Russia Today (RT) channel, before he went into hiding from rape charges.

While the film had its good parts, such as a segment on the official cover-up in the TWA 800 tragedy, the constant refrain about “corporate power” being at the root of all major media scandals was not only disputable but tiresome. It demonized President Ronald Reagan for deregulating the media, a policy decision that gave rise to conservative talk radio and more, not less, diverse voices in the media.

The rise and influence of left-wing media, including outlets such as MSNBC, was completely ignored in “Shadows of Liberty.”

Five years in the making, the film seemed strangely out of date, focusing on an alleged “media monopoly in American journalism” when one of the featured commentators, Amy Goodman, who is a star at this conference, claims to be broadcasting on 1,149 stations around the world. This figure includes dozens of public TV stations in the U.S.

The liberal tilt of public broadcasting was also ignored in the film.

Goodman, co-host of Democracy Now!, is so far to the left that she ran a special program honoring Castro collaborator Che Guevara. Her co-host, Juan Gonzalez, who also writes for the New York Daily News, was a member of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), which spawned the terrorist Weather Underground.

Gonzalez is on the conference panel called “The Media’s Influence on the Immigration Debate,” which is described as dealing in part with “the Republican Party’s anti-Latino positions…”

In 2008, Goodman and Gonzalez used their program as a platform for Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, so they could dispute then GOP-vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s charge that they were terrorist associates of Barack Obama.

Another star at the conference is University of Illinois Marxist Professor Robert McChesney, the co-founder of Free Press, the sponsor of the conference. He is identified as a “media scholar,” even though he hosts a public radio show that excludes conservatives

In an article in the socialist Monthly Review, “Journalism, Democracy, and Class Struggle,” McChesney had declared, “Our job is to make media reform part of our broader struggle for democracy, social justice, and, dare we say it, socialism.”

He once introduced Obama’s notorious anti-American pastor, Jeremiah Wright, at an event to celebrate the socialist publication.

At the time, we noted that Free Press had received at least $1 million from the Open Society Institute of billionaire George Soros, a mega-capitalist who seems to have dedicated his life to overturning the system that made him wealthy.

However, a major new player at this year’s Free Press conference is the New America Foundation, another Soros-funded group. Indeed, a Friday morning session, “More Diversity, Less Consolidation: How to Change the Media,” will be moderated by Mark Lloyd, who is in charge of the New America Foundation’s “Media Policy Initiative.” A former Associate General Counsel and Chief Diversity Officer at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Lloyd had praised the Marxist revolution in Venezuela, where the regime has attempted to control or even eliminate private media sources.

Funding for the New America Foundation includes $1 million each from: The Ford Foundation; The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Eric and Wendy Schmidt (the Google chairman and his wife).

Funding in the category of $250,000 — $999,999 comes from two Soros entities, the Foundation to Promote Open Society and the Open Society Institute. But a similar amount is also listed from the U.S. Department of State.

In an interesting development, former Obama State Department official Anne-Marie Slaughter was just named as the New America Foundation’s next president, effective September 1.

As the Free Press conference was preparing to get under way here in Denver, The New America Foundation issued a release saying that its Open Technology Institute and Media Policy Initiative had “joined over 40 other public interest groups on a letter, led by former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, that calls on President Obama to appoint an FCC chairperson committed to prioritizing the public interest, not one who works for the will of corporate interests.”

Copps is on the Friday panel hosted by former FCC official Mark Lloyd.

The outgoing FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski, has failed to subject Al Gore’s sale of Current TV to Al Jazeera to any scrutiny at all. But that doesn’t bother the left-wing “Free Press” organization one tiny bit. They seem to welcome government funding or sponsorship of media organizations, even if the money comes from the Obama administration, Qatar or Russia.

Al Jazeera is funded by the pro-Jihadist government of Qatar and is regarded as the voice of the pro-terrorist Muslim Brotherhood.

On Sunday, the National Conference for Media Reform will feature a panel discussion titled, “Manufacturing Terror: The Media’s Anti-Arab and Anti-Muslim Problem,” with Ahmed Shihab-Eldin of HuffPost Live. He is a former producer for Al Jazeera.

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the Accuracy In Media Center for Investigative Journalism, and can be contacted at cliff.kincaid@aim.org.